My best moment in Haiti was on the evening of Wednesday, January 20th. We had completed a day of our mission work and were waiting for dinner. We were sitting on the front porch of the Reverend’s house. There were two young girls sitting on the porch with us. We didn’t know who they were and they didn’t know who we were. We were certainly an unusual sight in Petite Goave Haiti. A team of 10 missionaries from Michigan was surprising to these two girls who seemed to be about 4 and 5 years old.
We introduced ourselves, using our weak understanding of Creole. We found out the five year old’s name was Shawnasa and the four year old’s name was Ruth.
We can not converse in Creole and we had some time to kill before dinner. We took a soccer ball out to the drive way and started kicking it around. Dan Hart quickly joined us. We soon had another child join us and we kicked the ball for about ½ hour. We were running around, laughing, and having fun.
The sun went down and a beautiful Haitian moon came out. We continued to play soccer under the light of the driveway light and the moon. It was obvious that Ruth, the younger child was the better soccer player. The other, older girl Shawnasa, was not as quick of foot or as interested in soccer.
But Shawnasa was chatting with us as our team of Haitians and missionaries kicked the ball around and laughed and sang. Suddenly, Shawnasa started singing. We all encouraged her. We cheered as she sang a few more lines of a Haitian song in Creole. I walked over to her and danced with her for a moment as the team laughed and cheered at her dancing and singing.
Suddenly Shawnasa looked up and me and hugged me. She looked up in my eyes and said “Amis!” I don’t know creole, but I know Amis means friends in French. Creole is based on French and everyone knew that this meant that we were friends. Everyone knew that we were all friends. This was my happiest moment in Haiti.
It may seem silly to travel thousands of miles and spent lots of money to go to Haiti to make friends with a 5 year old girl. It is not.
I learned later that Shawnasa doesn’t attend the school where we were working. She is a neighbor of the Dorcelys who stops by the Reverend’s house for clean drinking water because her family can’t afford it. The Dorcelys simply provide it. Shawnasa is very poor. She will likely grow up without electricity or an education. But she will always be my friend.
— Tom Cobau